WVU Mixes Pressure, Free Throw Shooting To Tame Tigers
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It all seemed to be caving in on West Virginia, down 15 midway through the second half to Missouri in Sunday’s Advocare Invitational championship game.
But just when all appeared lost, the Mountaineers’ vaunted press started to create bushels of Tiger turnovers (8 in 10 possessions) and WVU battled all the way back, leaving Orlando with a dramatic 83-79 victory.
With the win, the Mountaineers improved to 6-1 on the season, while Missouri dropped to 5-2.
Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles provided WVU with most of its offense, scoring 29 and 26 points respectively. The pair was especially deadly from the foul line, as Carter hit 8-of-8 free throws, while Miles was 14-of-15. As a team, WVU was 31-of-35 from the stripe.
No other Mountaineer was in double figures, though Wesley Harris had nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
West Virginia needed every one of Harris’ rebounds, because WVU center Sagaba Konate got in early foul trouble. He eventually played just 16 minutes before fouling out with just two points and one rebound.
Mizzou, which dominated the glass 47-31, was led by Jordan Barnett who had 21 points and 11 rebounds as the Tigers lost elite level forward Jontay Porter (nine points, nine rebounds) with 1:28 remaining. WVU secured the game from there, hitting eight free throws down the stretch to seal the in-season tournament championship.
Carter got things going at the beginning of the game, hitting three quick three-pointers to allow WVU to open up an early 9-4 lead. West Virginia stayed in front until a Porter’s trey at the 7:18 mark gave Mizzou its first lead of the contest at 23-21. That got the Tigers into a rhythm, and they opened up a 32-26 lead two minutes later on three more threes. Ultimately Missouri knocked eight three-pointers, in 14 first-half attempts, and took a 41-36 lead into the lockerroom at the midway break.
Mizzou quickly stretched that advantage to 15 early in the second half, taking a 55-41 lead on yet another trey. Missouri hit 12 three-pointers in the game.
But West Virginia kept battling and an 8-0 run brought the Mountaineers within five at 73-68 with 4:01 remaining. WVU kept the charge going, and Daxter Miles cut the deficit to one with a couple buckets a short time later.
Then the biggest basket of all, a three by Carter with 36.9 seconds left, gave WVU a 77-75 edge, its first lead since the first half. Miles and Carter sealed the comeback victory by hitting six straight free throws in the final 21 seconds to cap the win
WVU gets a bit of rest now, as it won’t play again until it hosts NJIT on Thursday.